Time for a Fair Go, Prime Minister
DEAR Prime Minister,
Welcome to Rockhampton today and the great state of Queensland.
Let's clear up the page one cartoon very early in the piece - we don't think you're a clown.
But Wallaby rugby coach Michael Cheika's reaction to a similar drawing in New Zealand last weekend (see inset) put it on the front pages and TV screens of most Australians.
We hope this gimmick gets your attention today - desperate times call for unusual tactics.
And these are desperate times for regional Australia, particularly those communities smashed by the mining downturn in Central Queensland.
The big question is: Are you going to do anything about it?
We're sorry to put the pressure on. You must have thought a visit to the Sunshine State this week would have been smooth sailing.
Away from the polls that threaten to sink your Government, the negative political press gallery that holds so much sway in Canberra and a chance to mix with people who might not really care about Tony Abbott's latest brain snap.
But because this is the first time since the election you have visited a city where an Australian Regional Media newspaper is based, we have to add to the pressure.
What are you doing to ensure regional Australia gets a Fair Go?
Hopefully you read our detailed research through the election campaign. Our readers, and more than six million others in regional Australia being championed by about 20 daily newspaper titles, certainly did.
Our people die earlier than your neighbours in Wentworth in Sydney. We are poorer, we have worse health outcomes and less employment opportunities.
The evidence is stark: You are severely disadvantaged if you live in the regions. Statistics from your biggest government departments prove it.
So far your government has failed to demonstrate it has a coherent plan to move the dial.
Yes we are grateful for the funding thrown our way during an election campaign, but there's no evidence of an overall plan to stop the disparities that dog the regions.
Each year, you have to report on how the gaps are closing between the way indigenous people and other Australians live.
You need to consider that, urgently, for the regions versus the big cities.
Our 20 mastheads aren't going away.
Our six million residents demand we don't.
After three months of your silence on the plight of the regions, we're starting to fire up again.
We intend working with state and local government, and commercial partners, to show you what can be achieved.
We'll be asking if you're going to listen, and give us a Fair Go.
There are any number of reasons Pauline Hanson's One Nation party is surging in the polls in this area.
A lack of faith our people have that the two main parties will make a difference is a key one of those.
Regional Australians are desperate to find someone to give them a Fair Go. Are you the man for the job?
The Morning Bulletin, on behalf of the people of Central Queensland.